Mar 18, 2024
Dutch museum purchases painting immortalizing potatoes

A work of unparalleled art showcasing potatoes as its subject is now a permanent part of a Dutch museum where it has been on display for 40 years.

Rotterdam’s Boijmans Van Beuningen museum has purchased Vincent Van Gogh’s “Still Life with Potatoes,” which dates from 1887, for an undisclosed sum. The museum purchased the painting, previously on long-term loan from a private collection, to ensure it stayed in the Netherlands, Van Gogh’s birthplace, according to a news release.

“The risk with a long-term loan, especially with famous artists like Vincent Van Gogh, is that the work can be recalled or sold, possibly abroad,” the museum said in the release. “This purchase ensures that this Van Gogh will stay in the Netherlands’ national collection.”

Vincent Van Gogh “Still Life with Potatoes” (1886-87). Photo courtesy of the Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen now owns seven paintings by Van Gogh, according to the release.

The museum credited the support of the Rembrandt Association, the Mondriaan Fund, the Friends Lottery and private donors with making the purchase possible.

Van Gogh painted “Still Life with Potatoes” in Paris after studying for a short period at the art academy in Antwerp in 1885, according to the release. With the expressive work, featuring a fuller color palette than works such as “The Potato Eaters,” Van Gogh wanted to realistically depict potatoes’ lumpy, gnarled texture and to convey their solid weight, “which you’d feel if they were thrown at you,” according to a letter he wrote to his brother Theo.

Martin Bailey, a correspondent for The Art Newspaper and a Van Gogh expert, took note of the acquisition in his blog, “Adventures with Van Gogh.”

Bailey wrote that potatoes have not been a traditional subject of still life paintings, but noted that Van Gogh found theme appealing, equating them with “a simple rural life.”

“Still Life with Potatoes” will go on display in the museum’s Depot in Rotterdam on March 25 for one year.


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